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What’s so bad about Romney?

Published: January 20, 2012
Section: Opinions

Romney is inevitable.

This was obvious months before the former Massachusetts governor narrowly clinched the Iowa caucuses and no less decisively defeated his competitors in New Hampshire. Largely, this was due to the fact that serious potential rivals, as opposed to the second-tier candidates that constitute everyone else in the running, abstained, including Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, South Dakota Senator John Thune and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Sure, the race isn’t over yet. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has been kept afloat by a huge loan from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Additionally, Gingrich’s personal vendetta against Romney, fueled in part by an inflated ego that convinces him that he is a modern-day amalgamation of Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, prevents him from admitting defeat just yet.

Former Senator Rick Santorum is still relevant due to the fact that he is now the consensus social conservative alternative to Romney. Considering that he is retiring from his House seat this year, Congressman Ron Paul has nothing better to do besides grace us with his conspiracy-mongering, extreme domestic views, and isolationist and defeatist foreign policy. Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had such a promising resume, realized that his inability to articulate a coherent sentence and to remember that third cabinet department he would eliminate were slight obstacles to achieving the nomination. Finally, nobody really seems to miss the likes of Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman.

This all leads us back to our good old friend Willard. The conventional wisdom is that Romney is a weak candidate. We all know the caricature: Mitt is a flip-flopping, soulless, robotic, awkward, ruthless capitalist who ran to the left of Ted Kennedy, laid off thousands of blue-collar workers for his personal gain and, considering his wealth, is out of touch with the common man.

Now that we have gotten this stuff out of the way, let me play the contrarian and argue that Romney actually would not be that bad a nominee for the Republican Party.

First, when considered in its entirety, Romney’s experience contrasts well with Obama’s. The fact is that, until becoming president, Obama never really possessed any experience as a leader or manager, nor did he have any real accomplishments besides writing books about himself. Obama went from community-organizing to being a part-time lecturer, lawyer, state senator and U.S. senator for two years, and then to the presidency, where he has done a mediocre job at best. Romney has actually been a real leader in the private equity world through his role in the 2002 Olympics and as a governor.

I also find Romney’s general vision of a European-style social democracy versus a merit-based market-driven economy to be compelling, especially since countries that belong to the former category are currently falling apart at the seams. Excessively high taxes; punitive regulations; endless and unaffordable pensions and welfare benefits; widespread dependency on government; a moribund and demonized private sector; demographic crisis; an erosion of self-reliance and a strong work ethic—these are the types of intractable problems that nations such as Greece, Spain and Portugal are facing. Romney is making a credible case that this could be our future should we reelect President Obama.

Finally, Romney seems to be taking a prudent, practical and reform-minded stance on a number of issues, such as Medicare, the tax code and government spending. He supports a forward-looking internationalist foreign policy. He is being advised by experienced and accomplished policy veterans.

I look forward to seeing how he will fare this upcoming fall.